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An HO scale model railway in St. Jacobs, Ontario


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The Model Railway

In the spring of 2005, a new museum of local history and artifacts from the collection of Milo Shantz is slated to open on the top floor of the St. Jacobs Country Mill. One of the displays will be an HO scale model railway, open to the public. Our intention is to capture the charm of Waterloo County's rural past. Strictly speaking, the time period depicted will vary for different sections of the layout, but it will "feel" right, because of the unchanging nature of the area for so many years. It will incorporate various local scenes in miniature, the subjects including farming, a barnraising, a local meeting house (Mennonite Church), gas stations, a coal dealer, and most of downtown St, Jacobs in the steam era. Greg Shinnie's BADEN DIORAMA was purchased as well, to be incorporated into the layout as another destination for the trains. It will, we hope, be entertaining, nostalgic and educational.

One of the reasons for the rail theme was that Jan Gleysteen, illustrator, author, train buff  and long time friend of Milo Shantz, the man behind all this, donated a huge collection of "O" Scale trains and railroad memorabilia. This will be on view in custom built showcases in the same room as our layout.

Things will be kept relatively simple as the layout will be running continuously for tourists. The physical plan is, essentially, three loops of track, all disappearing behind a wall for half of their lengths, so the oval won't be too obvious.

The outer two tracks will feature big steam and early diesel era passenger trains, one track for Canadian National, the other for Canadian Pacific. Baden Train Station will be one stop for the trains. At the far end of the layout, there will be a fictitious town called Shantz Junction. Here, there will be an interchange track and a small yard, as well as a  station modelled after one that still exists today in Barry's Bay. Running continuously, the trains will have to be rotated, so we will probably alternate steam and early diesels.

The inner loop will feature a small branchline train, typical for Waterloo County in the steam era. Consists will be mostly freight, but a combine may be featured, as well. The motive power here will be strictly steam. We are upgrading a brass engine, (for sound and DCC) which is an exact replica of a CN ten-wheeler similar to an actual engine that ran on this track in the forties. The trackage in St Jacobs will be modelled accurately. (just two spurs and one siding)

The layout, when finished will be set up for automatic running, with LENZ  Digital Command Control,  full lighting, computer control and sound effects. (The details have not yet been finalized.) At this time. most of the modelling and layout construction has been done by Harvey Snyder, and Lance Russwurm, along with some modelling work by Greg Shinnie of Baden. Harvey's son, Tony, has been involved in various capacities as well. The electronics and control system are being done by Dan Kirlin, well known for his precision work in this area. Carpentry work for the benchwork and the beautiful showcases in the adjoining rooms, as well as the enclosure for our railway, are by Don Stewart.

 Many more people will be on board by the time we are finished!